Marlins 5, Brewers 3

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MILWAUKEE (AP)—Twice the Milwaukee Brewers had just the man they wanted at the plate with men on base and the game on the line.

Both times the Florida Marlins got slugger Richie Sexson to ground into an inning-ending, rally-snuffing double play.

Sexson stranded five runners in his last two at-bats, and the Marlins escaped with a 5-3 victory over the Brewers behind Juan Encarnacion’s two-run homer and Carl Pavano’s career-high ninth victory Friday night.

Mike Lowell, who drove in two runs for the Marlins, made a nice grab of Sexson’s hard bouncer with two on in the sixth to start the first double play.

“Mike made a great play,” Pavano said. “That ball was a rocket and he’s known for hitting some hard balls. I can’t say enough about these guys behind me. They kept me in the ballgame.”

Even when he was out of the game.

The Brewers loaded the bases with one out in the eighth but reliever Ugueth Urbina induced Sexson to hit into a 6-4-3 double play.

“I’ve watched Urbina since I was a rookie in ’98. I have the utmost confidence in that man,” Pavano said. “Nothing fazes him. Nothing scares him. He’s going to go right at you. He’s got great stuff and I knew he was going to make the pitch to get the outs.”

Sexson was kicking himself afterward.

“All you need is a fly ball in that situation, and I didn’t get the job done,” he said. “Hopefully I’ll get another couple tries at it tomorrow.”

Sexson fought off several tough pitches both times and in his final at-bat held up on a meaty pitch right down the middle.

“They got them out when they had to,” Marlins manager Jack McKeon said. “It wasn’t pretty, but they got him out.”

Pavano (9-10) allowed two runs on five hits in six innings while walking one and striking out seven. The Marlins improved to 19-4 in series openers since May 23.

Braden Looper pitched the ninth for his 23rd save in 27 tries.

Ben Sheets (10-9) surrendered five earned runs—the most he’s allowed since June 15 at Baltimore—on six hits in seven innings. He walked one and struck out eight.

Lowell’s run-scoring single in the fourth gave him 423 RBIs with the Marlins, surpassing Jeff Conine’s franchise mark. He added a RBI single in the sixth.

The Marlins scored three times in the fourth following an error by second baseman Eric Young, who overthrew the 6-foot-8 Sexson at first base while trying to complete a double play.

The error put Ivan Rodriguez at second base with one out, and Lowell drove him home with a single up the middle. Encarnacion, who was 0-for-9 lifetime against Sheets, followed with his 13th homer for a 3-1 lead.

“I thought Ben pitched great tonight. He made one bad pitch where he kind of hung a breaking ball to Encarnacion,” Brewers manager Ned Yost said.

Geoff Jenkins made it 3-2 with a homer in the bottom half, his 22nd of the season and first since July 17 at Pittsburgh.

Lowell’s second RBI single made it 4-2, and Sheets’ wild pitch scored Rodriguez from third later on in the sixth.

John Vander Wal, who scored Milwaukee’s first run on Keith Osik’s groundout in the second, hit his 13th homer in the seventh to pull the Brewers to 5-3 inthe seventh.

Notes

Hall of Fame announcer Bob Uecker will miss several Brewers games to have double knee replacement surgery on Monday. Uecker, 69, had hoped to delay the operation until after the season but the pain has become intolerable. “If it wasn’t painful, I wouldn’t do it,” Uecker said. “I don’t fish. I don’t do anything. It’s not fun anymore.” … RHP Mike Jones, the Brewers’ first-round pick (12th overall) in 2001, will miss the final month of the Double-A season with a tender right elbow. … Marlins 1B Derrek Lee missed his second straight start with a sore right shoulder, which he injured on July 28 in a game againstArizona. He was a defensive replacement in the bottom of the ninth.

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